Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Long Goodbye, Part 2

I am incredibly busy in site right now, and that’s exactly how its supposed to be.  During training they told us all these things about how your service is going to be.  They explain that, at least for agriculture volunteers, the first few months of service are going to feel slow. Then, most volunteers move into their own house and things speed up.  The first year mark rolls around and volunteer projects are getting off the ground.  Then, the second year just flies by.  Community members know the volunteer and have more confidence in her, meaning the second half of the second year is just plain busy.
That’s exactly how it went for me.
I drank a LOT of tereré in the first few months with EVERYONE.  It didn’t fee like I was doing much, and I worried that I was a “bad” volunteer.  But that long community integration time has been paying off this second year.  I’m glad I did worry to much about doing charlas and tallers (lessons and workshops) in my first few months, my language wasn’t good enough anyway.  The result of waiting, is that now people KNOW me and are (mostly) willing to listen to me.
There is also something they talked about in training, called the “emotional rollercoaster.”  It talks about the emotional ups and downs that most volunteers experience.  This is the best link I could find.  Basically it breaks down, in astounding detail, the highs and lows of service.  There are several swings in the 10 weeks of training, then a little peak when you get to site, then a dip as you relies what exactly your in for for the next two years.  It goes up again as you settle into life in the country. There is a peek at the year mark and a dip directly after; perhaps a indicating that your pleased with how far you have come in a year, and then the realization that you have a year left.  Then it evens out for most of the second year.  Finally, it dips at 2 to 3 months before your COS (close of service) date; the time during which you are worrying about the future, trying to finish up your work, and saying goodbye to the people you have grown to love and quite likely will never see again.

You should all be impressed that I limited my self to just three tree planting photos...
During training I rolled my eyes and for the most part ignored these predictions.  But I came a cross the paper detailing these ups and downs about a month ago, and was absolutely astonished at how accurate they were to my own experience.  Apparently they actually know what they are talking about in training.
One of the schools.
On top of being busy with work in site, there is also the astounding amount of paperwork necessary to leave Peace Corps.  Remember all that paperwork you had to do to get into Peace Corps, well you have to do almost as much to leave it!  I was all set to start applying for jobs while in-country, but I have decided to just wait until I get back to the states.  The busyness and my oh-so-slow internet connection, just make it too difficult.  Since almost no one in my community knows I have a computer, they don’t realize that I’m actually working when I’m inside my house.
English Class!
I finally met my “follow up” this week.  For the most part, Peace Corps Paraguay has a 6 year, three volunteer, rotation for any given site. The idea is that there is a “first time” volunteer, and then two separate “follow-up” volunteers.  I was a first time volunteer. I was my community’s first resident volunteer.  My responsibility was to build a foundation of understanding and good will upon which follow up volunteers could build, along with continuing any projects.  The fact that my community wanted another volunteer after me, and was viewed by Peace Corps as a good functioning site for one, is fantastic.  I think I got a really good follow up and I am very hopeful for her and for the community.  I absolutely wish her the best (I’m not saying her name or posting a photo because I haven’t asked her permission).  She will have a very different service that I did (everyone’s service is unique), but I think she and the community will do great things together!
Piña Poty, the Women's Committee.
I know I started out this post saying how busy I am.  But I wrote that several weeks ago, now its much more tranquillo.  I am mostly just wrapping up my classes and packing up my house… and saying goodbye.


  1. you DIDN'T worry too much about charlas and tallers, right?

    Are you going back to Indiana anyhow? I think you'd fit right in in Portland.

  2. You might know my son Jonathan- he has finished his service and was also a "croppie". Lots of different emotions (for us both) as this stage of his life ends, and the next begins.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Yes! I do know your son. His nickname among the croppies was/is Jon-Bon. He's wonderful! Let him know that Lucy, Maddie and Fiona say "hi" and that we think he should have come to Mendoza with us :)